Mackerel is a fast, pelagic fish that is found in the northeast Atlantic Ocean, from the northwestern part of Africa to the Barents Sea, and westwards from the Norwegian Sea to Iceland and Jan Mayen. Pelagic fish are fish that live in the water column vs benthic fish.
Mackerel prefers relatively warm waters with a temperature over 6 degrees.
In European waters, it is managed as one stock – northeast Atlantic mackerel, which is divided into three spawning groups: North Sea mackerel, which spawns in the North Sea and Skagerrak (May to July); western mackerel, which spawns west of Ireland and the British Isles (March to July); and southern mackerel, which spawns off the coast of Spain and Portugal (February to May). The fish spawn in the surface layers of the sea, and the larvae grow to 20 centimetre in a few months.
The scope of the spawning stock is calculated by their annual egg production, measured in international, scientific surveys throughout the spawning season (February to July). During this time, the numbers of eggs produced by individual females are also measured.
After spawning, the western and southern mackerel migrate to the Norwegian Sea, and later to the North Sea and Skagerrak where they mix with the North Sea mackerel. The mackerel does not have a swim bladder and has to swim constantly in order not to sink. It can live up to 25 years.
The premium catch period is September to November when the Mackerel swims from the feeding areas in The Norwegian Ocean and back to the spawning areas. This is when the fat content is the highest, making the mackerel especially tasty and packed with healthy omega-3 and EPA/DHA fatty acids. This explains the international popularity of Norwegian mackerel, which is caught when the fish is of the highest quality.
Norway use mainly purse sein when fishing for Mackerel. This distinguishes Norway from other exporters and contributes to the high quality of Mackerel from Norway. Trolling line is also used along the coast and pelagic trawl at sea.
Mackerel is sold as following products:
- Fresh and frozen fillets
- Whole fish
Plankton, fish larvae and small fish.
Mackerel is especially rich in:
- Protein that builds and maintains every cell in the body.
- Marine omega-3 fatty acids that prevent and reduce the development of cardiovascular diseases, and are important building blocks in the brain.
- Vitamin D, necessary to balance calcium in the body, which maintains and strengthens the bones.
- Selenium, an important element in an enzyme that fights harmful chemical processes in the body.
More nutritional data can be found at www.nifes.no/en/prosjekt/seafood-data